When Tom Petty Picked a Fight on Last Episode of ‘Larry Sanders’
Tom Petty was ready to duke it out on the final episode of Garry Shandling's The Larry Sanders Show, which aired 23 years ago on May 31, 1998.
Appearing as himself on the show, Petty sparked a scuffle first with actor Greg Kinnear and then with country singer Clint Black over who would be singing Larry's farewell song. "I haven't seen such a rumble since the Stones played Altamont," says Artie (Rip Thorn) as he breaks up the fight. "Well then you don't need me, you already got Roy Rogers," Petty tartly replies, gesturing to Black. The rumble starts right back up.
Petty had been invited onto a Shandling set before -- the pair had originally met and become good friends about a decade prior when the singer performed on It's Garry Shandling's Show in 1987, as well as played a small role as Shandling's neighbor. The comedian felt Petty clicked on camera and brought him back for the final episode of The Larry Sanders Show eleven years later. In a 2007 bonus clip from Not Just The Best Of The Larry Sanders Show which featured the duo chatting at Petty's California home, Shandling said Petty's "sensibility was automatically right" for the episode, and that it was one of his "favorite scenes."
"Well, I mean, I was lucky," Petty responded. "I watched the show a lot. I was a fan, you know, and I felt like I kind of understood what you were doing...you had just enough of a line where you knew it was going to be funny, but there was room to play around that line and that really gave it an extra spark."
Watch Tom Petty on 'The Larry Sanders Show' Finale in 1998
In addition to Petty, Kinnear and Black, the final episode of The Larry Sanders Show also included appearances from several other A-listers, including Jon Stewart, Ellen DeGeneres, Warren Beatty, Tim Allen, Jim Carrey and Jerry Seinfeld. Though the series was immensely popular, by the time the sixth season came around, Shandling was starting to feel burned out and decided it would be the last.
"You were always very pressured," Petty said, remembering his visits to Shandling during the final season and noting that it was a "classy" way to finish the show, "because, as I understand it, you were riding really under the gun like just to make the next episode."
"You're still recording and playing though, aren't you?" Shandling asked Petty. "Take a little lesson from me."
"You talk about two freaks of nature," Petty joked, "two beaten, battered showbiz veterans."
Watch Tom Petty on 'It's Garry Shandling Show' in 1987